Bouts of depression or low mood are like the ocean's tide.
Calm and serene one moment and then out of nowhere can send you spiraling, feeling washed-up on a sandbank like you've been through the heavy-duty washing machine cycle. My own encounters with the dreaded depression and feelings of hopelessness that go hand-in-hand with it are vivid.
While giving time to feel and acknowledge present challenges is essential.
It can be helpful to have a plan, something that you can make yourself try in dark moments to begin clawing oneself through.
The community spirit upon which zines have grown and their imperfect aesthetic have made them invaluable tools in connecting community and helping readers feel a bit less alone. Another benefit is their small size. When thoughts are heavy, having seemingly achievable steps to take can be indispensable.
Here we share three uplifting mental health workbooks that will help you reflect on what's important and work through difficult times.
Unf*ck Your Brain: Using Science to Get Over Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Freak-Outs, and Triggers Workbook
Dr Faith G Harper
Our bestselling mental health workbook and for a good reason.
Unf*ck Your Brain gently steps you through eleven exercises that begin with helping you to identify bodily sensations, triggers, and mood. Once these areas have been reflected upon, the workbook changes the emphasis to help you start planning out some positive steps to get you through. I love reading Dr. Faith's zines. They're relatable and get right to the point. No fluffing around the edges here.
"Let's stop focussing on the things we want to change for 5 f*ucking minutes, OK? For now, just look at the stuff that makes you a badass who is completely capable of change"— Dr. Faith Harper.
Dr. Faith's approach is certainly appreciated in times of difficulty.
As you work through this zine's activities, you start to feel more aware of what you're experiencing with a solid plan that focuses on your strengths to guide you through tricky times like these with more confidence.
Unf*ck your Brain the workbook is ½ size zine, 32 pages $4.95
How to Feel Better: A Beginners Guide to Physical Mental and Spiritual Wellbeing
by School of Life Design
How to Feel Better continues School of Life Design's powerful mental health series with another excellent workbook that gives seven novel exercises to help transform negative thoughts and feelings into more positive ones.
The idea behind this workbook is to try to do one exercise per day across 7-days, like an intensive course. This workbook— like Unf*ck your Brain above —centers around firstly acknowledging how you feel and then taking a solution focus to get through those nagging cycles of rumination that can be so difficult to get through. I think that this approach of acknowledging challenging times is critical to accept and move forward.
"When we acknowledge the way we feel and focus on the solution instead of the problem, we'll begin to flow again."
I love the clean design of School of Life design workbooks, there's plenty of space to write in them, and the activities are novel and exciting with fun illustrations that you can engage with throughout.
How to Feel Better is a ½ size zine, 20 pages, $6.00
Smile File: A Place to Store Happy Memories
by Kim Rounsefell
As human beings, there can be a predisposition to ruminate on negative feelings far more than we reflect on positive ones.
As a chronic self-doubter, I created the Smile File around the premise of capturing the small, seemingly inconsequential positive things that happen day-to-day throughout our lives so that we can reflect on them in times of need and self-doubt. When we say 'positive things,' this doesn't have to be big moments, just things that have bought a smile here and there—a note from a friend, a funny card, song lyrics that resonate with you.
This workbook is mostly illustrated workbook with very little text—that's where you come in.
On each page are dedicated spaces to add what's important to you, color quotes, messages, reminders. Plus, some sneaky heartwarming flowers-faces peaking up at you from the page to bring a little extra life, a smile, and a reminder that you are not alone in this.
Smile File is a ¼ size zine, 24 pages, $4.25
If you or some one you know is struggling and in need of urgent help, please check this guide by the National Institute of Mental Health for guidance on how to seek immediate support.